Monthly Archives: November 2013

What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 3


Alright, last push!

I’m sure I’m leaving something out, and I’m not even mentioning our busy social calendar during these 8 weeks *grinning* but the last project which we finished couple of days ago was a chicken coop!

We’ve built it from bricks and cement, put a wooden support for the roof on top (made of eucalyptus branches and broken up pallets) and then tiled it with what we’ve had already.

I had to look it up online to see how to tile it all together 🙂

Then we’ve covered the walls outside with the white cement and waterproofed the roof.


Ideally we should have had some lyme coating instead of cement, but we didn’t have the time as we are getting the chickens on Monday. The nesting is done inside from tiles, bricks and hay.


Then we built the door out of broken pallets and fenced up the yard for the chickens. The gate is recycled from the dog kennel.

We will see how it all works out. None of us had chickens before, but both me and Alex vaguely remember how we used to feed chickens and collect eggs when we were kids. I’m also reading this book to help.

Last thing I did was building a scarecrow for the orchard. Took me 10 minutes after we collected our hay and much giggling!

Meet Oscar!

This is it for today. I might post tomorrow to show some cool pics from our quinta.

Lots of love,


What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 2


…back again!

The tarp we bought during the week of rain was hastily set up with what we had on the land, so when we had time we got back to it and created a proper wooden structure. Again, we’ve tried to use what was available on the land. hence the piping for the support 🙂

After 5 days of non-stop rain, the area under the tarp turned into a swamp, so we had to drain it and dig some trenches around.

took us 3 days to drain all the water


just one layer of gravel

trenches all around for rain run offs

the small solar panel is for the caravan 12v lights by the way

I think it came out rather nice!

The dog kennel has been torn down, and the floor in the kitchen leveled and gravelled. Alex and Shaun have started raising the outside wall. We’ve also ordered some concrete poles for the roof, which we’ll use to build the structure that we will tile later.

I haven’t got the pic for the whole floor, but it’s all done now.

I have been salting the olives using Wendy’s suggestion although Portuguese do it in a completely different way leaving olives in fresh water every day for a month, and then adding salt to them. I have three different batches.

I’ve done big green olives, small black ones, and really big black ones. We’ll see in few months!

We’ve made a lovely fire pit (courtesy of Shaun) for our bogracs (Hungarian cooking pot), which we have been using very frequently for slow cooking and grilling.

I’ve also collected the rock pears from our pear tree and made a delicious French Countryside Pear Jam using this recipe.

chopping with gazillions of flies around.


cooking and sterilizing the jars at the same time

You can buy these in Chinese shops in few different sizes. It’s much cheaper than Portuguese supermarkets. Off course I’m collecting all the jars of food I buy anyway for future use.

Just three jars from 5 hours of work, but the jam is delicious!

My first attempt to create a quince jam wasn’t very successful as I used too little sugar and too much lemon. It’s sour but it’s still nice to eat with sweet biscuits and it smells lovely.

harvesting quinces


I’ve had 5 jars out of 2 kg of quinces (maybe?). Will wait till the end of the month to make more. Quinces weren’t quite ripe, and it’s really hard to cut them right now.

As to the olive harvest we kind of messed it upright away.

We started in the beginning of November and collected about 90kg from 5-6 trees…

But you can only keep harvested olives up to a week so we looked for the olive press when they started going off on us. Well… Apparently olive press here doesn’t open until the 18th of November, so we had to follow Portuguese advice and leave what we could salvage from our olives in water until then. I think I lost half a crate to the rot.

Anyway, we are harvesting again next week onwards and we still have at least 30 trees to do. Oh boy!

For those of you interested, we were told that the press in our village which is one of the best in the area will take 13kg of olives and return 1 litre of extra virgin olive oil back. They will take their cut in oil as a payment.

We’ll know more after we’ve had our oil.

we are pruning the trees as we go as well. They are very overgrown.


picking olives is a very relaxing, meditative job. I’m loving it!

To be continued in part 3…


What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 1


So sorry, peeps! We’ve been busy and couldn’t write an update here fast enough.

Last time I promised to tell you what we’ve been doing on our land.  So here it is:

First 2-3 weeks we definitely dedicated to clearing everything from the brambles. They grow really fast and have vicious thorns, but they have two saving graces: they give you berries and they burn really well.

Here are pics BEFORE the clearing 🙂


dog kennel inside


and the stacks of tiles covered

water tank


first quarry

back of the shed and kitchen

second quarry


in the middle of meadow

the well

There was another wall that we’ve cleared out, but I can’t find any BEFORE pics. I don’t think I’ve taken them!


slowly clearing out the walls and stacks of tiles

levelling the floor


opening up the terrace on the top of the kitchen. The trees had to be cleared off of brambles and vines

water tank is cleared


meet our friend, Shaun, whose first task on arrival was kitchen floor. He’ll be staying with us for awhile

Alex starting on the outside wall for the future bathroom


another terrace discovered under all the brambles and vines!

back of the kitchen and shed completely cleared. Discovered possible water mines or wild boar dens. Who knows?


Side of the shed is cleared. Solar panels temporarily go up, and we are powered! We also start collecting rubbish left on the land – plastic, chemicals, rusty metal, shards of glass, etc. Temporary structure for the tarpaulin goes up.

bye, bye, brambles in the meadow…


second quarry is cleared

Here is what we’ve been doing since Shaun joined us in the second week of October until now, 16th of November…

the dry stone wall is getting raised for the composting toilet

it’s getting there…


voila! the toilet is done.


sensor solar light inside for night use

Right, it’s getting to be a long post, guys, so I’m splitting it in two.

To be continued in a min!